Clam House and Winterizing... Winter is Coming!

The ability to switch gears and adapt to changing conditions is a helpful trait to have in general but I'd venture to say it's an essential one for the RV owner. I originally had a rather easy day planned for today and then I heard the weather report! The day began as planned, Glen and I set up my new Clam Screen Shelter to be sure it worked as advertised. I ordered the Clam Quick Set Screen Shelter with the intention of using it as a mobile art studio where I can set up a sewing machine or an easel and spend the day creating while I'm on the road. A screen room could also be a good way to keep Dexter safe and contained while I'm creating and allow him room to roam. The Clam is a generous 140" x 140" and is lightweight (34 lbs). It folds and stores quite compactly and was easy to set up. Once out of the bag, the 5 sides of the shelter pop out with the tug of a strap on the center hub. Once the sides are out, a simple push up of the center hub pops the top into position. It was very fast to assemble and although Glen was helping me, I could have managed on my own. The only downside to this screen house is that even when disassembled, it is too long to fit in the cab of the truck and will need to be stored in the bed of the truck. When the camper is hitched to the truck bed, the Tonneau cover must be rolled up leaving the truck bed open.  During those times, I'll need to store it in the center aisle of the camper until I reach my destination and unhitch. I think it's going to be worth the hassle to store. I'm very pleased with this screen house and I think it will work well as a mobile art studio!

I then spent a few hours at the camper sorting the clothes I took on my maiden voyage and culling out those I found I didn't need. On my way to meet a friend for lunch, I heard the weather forecast indicating a hard freeze prediction for tonight. Yikes! I had hoped that I would be on the road before the temps got that low. I'd need to switch gears and spend the afternoon winterizing Wild Thing to protect the water lines from damage caused by freezing.

After lunch and a chat with my friend Cheryl,  I drove to Harbor Freight Tools to get the 1-1/16" socket wrench I needed to remove the Hot Water Heater Anode Plug and drain the water from the hot water heater. While there I found the Pittsburg Portable Inflation Device. I hoped this might work to blow out the water lines. This is a 12v device, so I also purchased a 12v extension cord to help me access the 12v outlet on the exterior of the camper which is located on the opposite side of the camper from the hot water heater. I purchased several gallons of RV/Marine Antifreeze (non-toxic) at Walmart and with these supplies in hand I was ready to winterize.

Winterizing involves draining all water from the camper including the holding tanks (black and gray), the fresh water tank, and the hot water heater. Any residual water must also be removed from the water lines and antifreeze added to the drains to protect the water in the P-traps from freezing.

I had emptied the black and gray tanks before arriving home and had drained the fresh water tank before taking the camper in for service.  To drain the hot water heater, I first bypassed the water heater using the bypass valves located under the dinette bench seat. I was then ready to drain water from the hot water tank by removing the anode plug. When you do this be sure to open the pressure relief valve before removing the anode plug. I failed to do this and it resulted in a rather abrupt spray of water when the anode came loose.  I got quite a bath and likely won't forget that step again! Once the water has drained from the hot water tank, I applied Teflon tape to the threads on the anode, replace it, and closed the pressure relief valve.

There are two ways to remove water from the lines  One is by blowing the water from the lines then adding RV antifreeze to the drains which will protect the P-traps from freezing.  The second way is to aspirate antifreeze into the water lines to force residual water out and then again adding antifreeze to the drains.

I was hoping that the inflation device I purchased would work to blow the lines clear since this seemed to be a cleaner process and used less antifreeze. Before attempting the blow out procedure, I fitted the freshwater port with my water hose pressure regulator to be sure that the pressure stayed within acceptable limits and an RV blowout plug. The 12v extension cord did not work so I had to find an alternate 12v plug to operate the inflation device. The truck has a 12v outlet but I could not park it close enough to the camper to use it. I was finally able to access a 12v plug inside the camper near the rear dinette by opening the window and removing the screen! With Glen's help, we were able to use the inflation device to blow out all the water lines.

Each water line must be cleared of both the hot and cold water by turning on first one tap until all the water is out and air flows through the line, then closing that tap and turning on the other to repeat the process. This cycle is repeated for the kitchen sink (hot and cold), bathroom sink (hot and cold), shower head (hot and cold), toilet, and outside shower (hot and cold). Once this was done, I poured RV/Marine Antifreeze (non-toxic) into the kitchen sink drain, the bathroom sink drain, the shower drain, and the toilet to fill the P-traps.  I used one gallon of antifreeze shared between these 4 drains.

Wild Thing is equipped with a winterizing T-Valve that will allow me to use the camper water pump to aspirate RV Antifreeze into the water lines to force the water out. This method would leave the lines full of antifreeze ensuring that they would not freeze, but then to reverse the process, the antifreeze in the lines would need to be flushed out with water. This is not a problem, but I prefer to have the lines blown clear. It just seems a bit simpler. When I'm out of freezing temperatures, I'll reverse the winterizing process by filling the fresh water tank, taking the hot water heater off bypass, and using the pump to fill the hot water tank and the lines with water again. this process should be simplified since the lines are not full of antifreeze. The small amount of antifreeze in the P-traps will be pushed into the holding tanks as freshwater flows through the system and dumped when I empty the holding tanks.

In light of the change in the weather, I'm adjusting my travel dates by reverting to my original plan to leave on Sunday, November 19th. I'll enjoy an early Thanksgiving celebration with the boys then get going south so I can settle in before the snows come! Although I hadn't planned to winterize Wild Thing today, I'm glad it happened so I now have the equipment, knowledge, and experience I need to take care of my camper in cold weather.